Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Not Writing?

            “And as imagination bodies forth

            The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

            Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

            A local habitation and a name. — William Shakespeare. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Nothing helps my writing better than a morning in which I take a walk in time to see the sun come up. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Nothing helps my writing better than a morning in which I take a walk in time to see the sun come up. — Photo by Pat Bean

Perhaps You Are

“Just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean I’m not writing.” – Unknown

And when I take that walk with Pepper, I'm a lucky old broad indeed. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And when I take that walk with Pepper, I’m a lucky old broad indeed. — Photo by Pat Bean

I came across that quote when I was 10 years into my 37-year journalism career. From that point forward, it never strayed far from being in plain sight when I sat down at my computer.

While one is never going to become a writer unless he writes a heck of a lot, I think those who do write, do it even when they’re not doing it.

Perhaps only writers can understand this. But observing the features of the person sitting opposite you at Starbucks, and imagining how you would describe those features to readers, is writing. Recalling the full-bodied dream you had, and wondering if it could be a story, is writing. And staring out the window at the clouds and not thinking of anything is writing.

To write is to be observant of life as it plays out all around you. Putting what you see into words makes awesome sunsets and the aged wrinkles in an old woman’s face both seem real – and both seem beautiful. At least that’s the way it is for this writer.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Cape Point Hike http://tinyurl.com/mssarg7 I can never resist a scenic walk, and always enjoy when a writer takes me along with them.

             “Building a better you is the first step to building a better America.” –Zig Ziglar

There's not much more American than Route 66. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There’s not much more American than Route 66. — Photo by Pat Bean

My Country – For Better and For Worse

Celebrating America -- Photo by Pat Bean

Celebrating America — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m not much for patriotism. It’s been the cause of too many wars. But almost every day, I wake up, and realize how thankful I am that I was born in this great country.

I weep, often and openly, for women born in countries where they are denied the same freedoms, the same opportunities, the same respect, as men. Not that many men in any country actually think women are their equals, but at least in this country we have the opportunity for careers of our choice, the right to vote, the right to hold public office and the right to go anywhere we dare alone.

It’s not always easy, and life is not always fair, but at least we have a chance. But that’s the same whatever the gender. But I cringe, thinking of what my great life today would be like if I had as few choices as some of my other-country sisters.

Thank you America. I love your purple mountains’ majesty and your amber waves of grain. And because I was free to travel this country as a lone female, I know your bounteous beauty.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Happy Fourth of July http://tinyurl.com/ly35ypq  Even if you’re a raccoon. Just a birdy way to get you to smile.

             “You cry and you scream and you stomp your feet and you shout. You say, ‘You know what! I’m giving up, I don’t care.’ And then you go to bed and you wake up and it’s a brand new day, and you pick yourself back up again.” Nicole Scherzinger

While I may sketch an owl now and then, I'm no night owl. Just call me an early bird. -- Illustration by Pat Bean

While I may sketch an owl now and then, I’m no night owl. Just call me an early bird. — Illustration by Pat Bean

Morning is My Time of Day

            As soon as I opened my eyes this morning at my daughter’s house, where I’m animal-sitting while the she and her family are camping, I took my canine companion Pepper, and my daughter’s dogs, Tara the great Dane and Bobo the yellow lab, outside to do their business.  Then I fed the dogs; the two cats Rocky and Miss Kitty, the two fighting Siamese fish (If they have names, I don’t know them), then went outside to feed, water and fly-splay the horse, Hondo

That done, I came in and had a cup of cream-laced coffee, while reading the 127 e-mails waiting for my attention on my computer.  Next, I took a hot bath, luxuriating in a nice long soak while I mentally planned my day. When I realized it was the first of the month, I decided to drive back across town to my apartment so I could pay rent and check my mail, as I was expecting three books to judge for a contest.

I was half-way there when I glanced at the clock on the dashboard of my car. I expected it to be about 9 o’clock. But it wasn’t. It was only 6:37 a.m. Even this early riser was surprised.      

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Go where the trail takes you http://tinyurl.com/ojcmqbx I loved my four-wheel ride with Monica Devine on this trail. But then I’ve never been one to worry about my nails anyway.

Early Morning Thoughts

             “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vase edifice of stone and space.” – Ansel Adams

Yosemite waterfall. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Yosemite waterfall. — Photo by Pat Bean

Happy Birthday Yosemite

            I woke this morning just after 5 o’clock. It was beautiful and cool outside, with nary a hint that today’s high here in the Sonoran Desert would top 100 by several degrees. So I decided to take my canine companion, Pepper, to the dog park for a romp.

The Grizzly Giant -- National Park Service photo

The Grizzly Giant — National Park Service photo

On the three-mile drive there, I listened to NPR on my car radio, and learned that Yosemite is celebrating its 150th birthday. As the story goes, a photo of “The Grizzly Giant,” a Sequoia tree that is as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but with a greater lean, was shown to President Abe Lincoln.     Greatly impressed with the photos he saw, he took time out from the heartache and bloodshed of the Civil War to declare Yosemite Valley the first federally protected wilderness area.

I guess Old Abe was a tree hugger – just like me. That’s nice to know.

Bean Pat: You can read all about Yosemite’s birthday celebration here. http://tinyurl.com/ofh92d2

The Right Attitude

            “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” – Herm Albright

Perhaps I also like to watch Survivor and American Ninja Warrior because I'm a bit of an adrenalin junkie who can imagine herself as one of the participants. Which is why it was such a thrill for me to go for a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti.

Perhaps I also like to watch Survivor and American Ninja Warrior because I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie who can imagine herself as one of the participants. Which is why it was such a thrill for me to go for a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti.

An Aha Moment

I don’t have a TV, which is fine with me. The few programs I want to watch (Survivor, Amazing Race and NCIS, primarily), I can get on my computer.

Thankfully, these days I can get just as much of an adrenalin high from simply watching birds and butterflies.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Thankfully, these days I can get just as much of an adrenalin high from simply watching birds and butterflies. — Photo by Pat Bean

But this past week, while I was house sitting three dogs, two cats and two fish, at my daughter’s house while she and her family went on vacation, I found myself plunked down much too often in front of their big-screen monster.

I was amazed at both how many channels they had, and how few programs – after my marathon NCIS day – on television that were worth watching. My channel surfing ended when I clicked on a program called American Ninja Warrior. Fortunately the actual program, and not the endless commercials, was showing or I would have just kept clicking.

I hate violence and would have assumed that this was what the show was all about. It wasn’t. It simply involved a very difficult obstacle course that hundreds of athletes were attempting to complete. More failed than made it.

But almost without exception, those who tried were cheered by all, even their opponents, and those who failed smiled and said, “I’ll be back next year.”

And with those last words, I finally understood my attraction to such television programs as Survivor, of which I’ve long been a fan despite it being a game that encourages lying and deceit as part of the game. It’s the contestants who pick themselves up and continue onward, even when there is little to no hope, that I find so compelling.

I love that attitude. It is one writers who get rejection slips – and believe me I’ve had a ton of them – must have to keep going.

Bean Pat:  Zoo Stroll http://tinyurl.com/ldnf7y2 Take an armchair stroll through Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

Sara and Nevada

“A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair.” – Katrina Mayer

Yosemite's Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in "High Country."

Yosemite’s Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in “High Country.” — Photo by Pat Bean

When a Travel Book is Not about Travel

As a person with wanderlust in her soul, I find that on any list – and there are many – of the best travel books, I’ve read almost every one. And if I haven’t, give me a year and I usually will have.

Sara Peretsky's Chicago. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sara Peretsky’s Chicago. — Photo by Pat Bean

But this avid traveler has also discovered that a travel book isn’t always found on the travel book shelves. Two of my favorite authors, Nevada Barr and Sara Peretsky, write mysteries, which I love to read as much as I do travel books.

Barr’s character, Anna Pigeon, is a park ranger; and each of this author’s books increases my knowledge of one national park or another. Since I visit national parks as often as I can, reading Barr’s books has let me look at such parks as Yosemite, Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend and Isle Royal through more knowledgeable eyes.

Peretsky’s character, V. I. Warshawski, meanwhile, gives me an insider’s look at Chicago.  What Sara has written about Chicago makes other travel books about the Windy City seem dull in comparison. Thankfully I get to visit Chicago more often than not because I have a son who lives there.

Isn’t it great when you can find two passions, like mine of reading mystery books and traveling,  that fit together so perfectly?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Canoe Communications http://tinyurl.com/n9wvdx6  I loved this blog quote because it reminded me how connected we are to every living thing on this planet.

Of course, there are those critics – New York critics as a rule – who say, ‘Well Maya Anglou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer.’ Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.” – Maya Angelou

Words That Sing

If I remember right, Treasure Island was the first book I read from my grandfather's book cabinet.

If I remember right, Treasure Island was the first book I read from my grandfather’s book cabinet.

“Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

This quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” sang to me when I was a young girl who had claimed her dead grandfather’s stuffed book cabinet.  As did the final words of Lord Byron’s “Prisoner of Chillon:”

These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage – and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watch’d them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill – yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learn’d to dwell;
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are: – even I
Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.

Jack London's books encourage my love of animals; and it was a big thrill when I got to see his Yukon cabin.

Jack London’s books encouraged my love of animals; and it was a big thrill when I got to see his cabin in the Yukon.

Even as a 10-year-old girl, I understood the words of Lord Byron’s sonnet, and even memorized it. It was simply something this girl did growing up, and occasionally still does although the memorizing doesn’t come as easy.

I also memorized Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky:” which I didn’t understand, but whose language enchanted me; “ and Alfred Noyes’ “The Admiral’s Ghost,” whose opening lines “I tell you a tale tonight, which a seaman told to me, with eyes that gleamed in the lantern light, and a voice as low as the sea”  gave me goose bumps.

            I can still recite Jabberwocky from memory, and much of the other two pieces. Their words sang to me. Also in my grandfather’s book cabinet were the works of Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Jack London and many other classic authors, along with some not so classic.  But not having television, video games or a cell phone, I read them all at a very young age.

While Jack London’s books encouraged my friendship with animals as a young girl,  I didn’t know I was meant to be a writer until I was 25. I wonder if I ever would have known if it hadn’t been for my dead grandfather’s book cabinet.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Get Your Own Coffee http://tinyurl.com/o7spuxw As a woman fighting for job equality back when females were breaking into good-old-boy worker conclaves, I was fortunate to never be asked by a male colleague, or a boss, to get them coffee, or I might have responded much the same. But just to emphasize my equality, I never brought home-baked goodies to the office, as some of the other women did, or volunteer to be the social organizer for office events. Perhaps this is why I really liked this blog

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 639 other followers